Even if you don’t follow Australian Rules football, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name John Platten. And for good reason: “Platts” is a genuine champion of the game, and a true gentleman.
His story of growing up in Elizabeth and going on to achieve sporting greatness nationally is informed by a strong sense of family and community.
John speaks fondly, and with pride, of his upbringing in Elizabeth and of his hard-working, community-minded parents. With their support, John and his eight siblings were all heavily involved in a range of sports. John is also proud of his family’s fifty-year association with the Elizabeth Football Club where he began as a junior. His son is currently playing there and brother Mick is Club President.
It was family that drew John back to SA after retiring from playing elite footy with Hawthorn in Melbourne. His mother was ill, and John says he was grateful he and his kids could spend quality time with her before she passed away.
Being back in SA also gave John an opportunity to return to the Central District Football Club where he got his start in senior football and to which he clearly feels a deep loyalty. He could see a chance to play in the club’s first ever premiership, something he really wanted to be a part of.
This would have been a very satisfying way to end his playing career but it was not to be. Having survived a long, tough career without sustaining serious injury, John broke his leg after only six games back at Centrals. This, however, didn’t diminish his joy at watching Centrals finally win their first premiership in 2000.
Since 2010, John has been an assistant coach at Centrals where he is enjoying passing on to younger players not just his vast knowledge of football but also his immense, undiminished passion for it.
As for Elizabeth and its future, John says he’s hopeful that, despite the closure of Holden in October, people will still have the opportunity to have the kind of rewarding life he remembers from growing up there.